Where does the time go? It only seems five minutes since I was applying for my current postdoc position, and yet here I am approaching the dreaded end-of-contract and making plans for my next step! With 12 months remaining I still have plenty of time, but I think I am going to need a little help deciding what my next step should be. Two years ago, I was a starry-eyed postgrad with the world at my feet and firm plans for a sparkling career in academia. Now, I find that my interest in bench work has waned, my frustration and stress levels are permanently high, and I am missing my family back in Yorkshire more than I would have ever imagined. So: should I look for another postdoc closer to home, or just leave academia behind altogether?
Part of my problem is that I have never had a ‘plan B’ – all I have ever wanted to do is be a scientist, and I can think of no other career that would bring me as much satisfaction. But family comes first, and I am dead set on moving back to Yorkshire, where postdoc positions in my field are unfortunately few and far between. Even supposing I DID find one, what would I do after that contract was up? It feels hopeless. And yet giving it up is not straightforward either; I can’t think of anything else I want to do!
In the hope of getting some help with my career choices and job applications, I have just signed up to Newcastle University’s ‘Transitions’ programme. This scheme brings together researchers who are considering leaving academia and gives them a structured programme of support to help with career decisions, CVs and applications, job hunting and the like. Registrants are apparently encouraged to keep in touch outside of the formal sessions, providing moral support and guidance. Sounds good! But will it really help me to find my dream job? I’m hopeful, yet cautious.
The first session is in October; I’ll be in touch again then to let you know how it went!